Prevention of intimate partner violence and sexual violence
WHO scales up intimate partner violence and sexual violence prevention activities
Intimate partner violence and sexual violence are significant global health problems and human rights issues. Under the rubric of violence against women the two overlapping issues have received increasing attention. Much of the response to these forms of violence has focussed either on advocacy, providing adequate health and legal services and ensuring safety of victims once violence is disclosed, or on screening for violence in the context of health services.
When the word "prevention" is used, it is usually in reference to secondary and tertiary prevention - helping women get out of violent situations and preventing further violence. Little attention has been given to primary prevention - addressing the root causes with the goal of reducing the number of new cases. Recent hallmark publications have called for increased investment in primary prevention.
As part of the Global Campaign for Violence Prevention, WHO is giving increased attention to the primary prevention of intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: taking action and generating evidence is an important new tool for violence prevention researchers, practitioners and advocates provides a planning framework for developing policies and programmes for the prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence. This guide outlines the nature, magnitude, risks and consequences of intimate partner and sexual violence. It outlines strategies to prevent these forms of violence against women and describes how these can be tailored to the needs, capacities and resources of particular settings. It also emphasizes the importance of integrating scientific evaluation into all prevention activities in order to expand current knowledge of what works.
The manual describes interventions of known effectiveness, those supported by emerging evidence, and those that could potentially be effective, but have yet to be sufficiently evaluated for their impact. For instance, school-based programmes to prevent violence occurring in "dating relationships" have been shown to be effective in randomized trials in the USA and Canada. Evidence is emerging for the effectiveness of empowerment approaches which use microfinance combined with gender-equality training or are based on communications and relationship skills training such as the Stepping Stones training package, which has been widely used in low- and middle-income countries. Strategies that aim to prevent intimate partner and sexual violence through reducing the harmful use of alcohol also show promise. A six-step framework for planning, implementing and evaluating such prevention programmes and policies is presented.
This document is primarily aimed at policy-makers, programme planners and donors from public health and related sectors who seek to advance the prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence against women. In addition to the principal audience, other interested parties will include those working in other government sectors such as education, child welfare, social care, criminal justice and departments of women or gender equality; advocates from civil society organizations; local authorities; environmental and urban planners; and researchers.
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